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Review: Haunting Violet

Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey was released in the U.S. on June 21, 2011 in hardcover and eBook formats. It is currently available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble in both formats.

Published by Walker Children’s Books, a division of Bloomsbury, the print edition is  352 pages.

Goodreads description:

Violet Willoughby doesn’t believe in ghosts. But they believe in her. After spending years participating in her mother’s elaborate ruse as a fraudulent medium, Violet is about as skeptical as they come in all matters supernatural. Now that she is being visited by a very persistent ghost, one who suffered a violent death, Violet can no longer ignore her unique ability. She must figure out what this ghost is trying to communicate, and quickly because the killer is still on the loose.

Afraid of ruining her chance to escape her mother’s scheming through an advantageous marriage, Violet must keep her ability secret. The only person who can help her is Colin, a friend she’s known since childhood, and whom she has grown to love. He understands the true Violet, but helping her on this path means they might never be together. Can Violet find a way to help this ghost without ruining her own chance at a future free of lies?

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Rowena Wentworth didn’t drown. She was murdered. And until her killer is revealed and admits their guilt, her spirit will not rest. And as a restless spirit she is angry and she fears for her sister Tabitha’s safety. She wants justice.

So when she sees someone who possesses the gift of sight, she is determined to make them solve her murder and she will not leave them alone until they do.

Violet Willoughby never wanted to follow in her mother Celeste’s footsteps – someone who claimed to have the ability to connect with the spirit world. But she knew her mother was a fraud, that she only sought the profit and attention that being a medium afforded. She was well aware of all her mother’s tricks. And she knew that spirits didn’t really exist.

But when her mother is invited to Rosefield by Lord Jasper to perform a séance, Violet quickly learns just how wrong she’s been. That there really are such things as spirits. That she can see them. And that if she doesn’t figure out who Rowena’s killer is, she might never be left alone.

Because a sixteen-year-old girl with psychic abilities is no match for an angry spirit dead-set on finding her executioner.

***

Haunting Violet is a bewitching and utterly delightful murder mystery with a twist set in the Victorian Era. It is a clever, fun and incredibly entertaining story that will keep readers guessing as to the identity of the killer and why they committed this crime.

The story has all the right elements to make up the perfect murder mystery. There are a number of characters who are behaving suspiciously, with hidden motives and many secrets they do not want revealed. There is a reluctant but capable “detective” and a charming and lovable “sidekick.” And it has an ideal setting – a large manor in the English countryside where the guilty party can easily remain hidden amongst the crowds.

But there is more to Haunting Violet than just a mystery. A whole new dimension is added to the story with the supernatural element and Violet’s ability to communicate with Rowena and other pleasant and not so pleasant spirits.

Violet and Elizabeth make a charming crime-solving duo. And with a love story developing in the background, Haunting Violet is an extremely engaging book.

Alyxandra Harvey’s ability to craft an enchanting story extends beyond the realm of the vampire in Haunting Violet, her novel that is part mystery, part ghost story and part love story. And she has created a group of characters that are incredibly entertaining and simply delightful to get to know.

Haunting Violet is not only a must read for fans of historical young adult fiction or supernatural murder mysteries, but for readers who enjoy a captivating, well-written story told from the main character’s perspective who is a very likable albeit reluctant heroine.

Reviewer gives this book [rating=5]

On a personal note:

When I read the description for Haunting Violet I had no idea that it took place in Victorian England. It was revealed rather quickly, however, when I opened the book and saw “1865” on the first page.

Victorian Era and historical fiction are not genres that I typically seek out or enjoy, but I’ve been a huge fan of the author’s Drake chronicles since the very first book. Plus, the idea of a ghostly murder mystery sounded like it would be quite entertaining. So, I decided to give it a chance.

And I’m so glad I did. I absolutely loved this book. Author Alyxandra Harvey’s writing was just as captivating as it was in her other books. Even more so. She really brought the story and characters to life and this story was much more richly developed than her vampire series, perhaps because it is a murder mystery.

Violet is utterly adorable. She is a slightly modern girl stuck in this stuffy and rather boring era of corsets and manners and etiquette. She has a mind of her own, and even though she appears somewhat to fit in with polite society she is much less constrained by their rules. How boring can she be when her mother is a fraudulent medium who has Violet participating in her deceptive schemes?

That Rowena Wentworth is one pain in the backside spirit. But I suppose I wouldn’t be too thrilled if I was murdered and no one knew it. It was fun to try and figure out “whodunit.” I took my guess pretty early on and was glad I was not wrong. But there were a number of suspicious characters that were great contenders to be the murderer, which kept me engrossed until the puzzle was solved.

Elizabeth is probably my favorite character. She is so nice and sweet and funny. And she is just so incredibly enthusiastic, quick to forgive, always ready to sneak a sweet treat and always manages to find a handsome boy to swoon over.

She and Violet made the perfect duo to try and solve the mystery behind Rowena’s death.

And then there is the love story. It is definitely worthy of a few sighs. It is ever so gently woven into the story, not taking anything away from the main focus which is the murder mystery. In fact, it adds to the story and makes Violet even more likable because of it.

I’m so happy that I did not judge this book by its genre. The story was incredibly engaging, Violet and Elizabeth were absolutely endearing, the supernatural element made the story both chilling and exciting and the love story was the icing on the cake.

I have no idea if this will be a series, but I would be completely thrilled to find out that there are more books planned for Violet, Elizabeth, Colin and Lord Jasper. With all the spirits wandering around Rosefield and all of London, there are bound to be a few more mysteries for Violet to solve.

***

To download an excerpt of the first chapter from the publisher, CLICK HERE.

Book trailer for Haunting Violet:

Author Alyxandra Harvey discusses Haunting Violet:

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This review is based on an ARC of the UK edition I won in a contest on the publisher’s Facebook page.

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